Browse Definitions :
Definition

scatter plot

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

A scatter plot is a set of points plotted on a horizontal and vertical axes.

Scatter plots are important in statistics because they can show the extent of correlation, if any, between the values of observed quantities or phenomena (called variables). If no correlation exists between the variables, the points appear randomly scattered on the coordinate plane. If a large correlation exists, the points concentrate near a straight line. Scatter plots are useful data visualization tools for illustrating a trend. 

Besides showing the extent of correlation, a scatter plot shows the sense of the correlation:

  • If the vertical (or y-axis) variable increases as the horizontal (or x-axis) variable increases, the correlation is positive.
  • If the y-axis variable decreases as the x-axis variable increases or vice-versa, the correlation is negative.
  • If it is impossible to establish either of the above criteria, then the correlation is zero.

The maximum possible positive correlation is +1 or +100%, when all the points in a scatter plot lie exactly along a straight line with a positive slope. The maximum possible negative correlation is -1 or -100%, in which case all the points lie exactly along a straight line with a negative slope.

Correlation is often confused with causation, either accidentally (as a result of false or unproved hypotheses) or deliberately (with intent to deceive). However, in the pure sense, while a scatter plot can reveal the nature and extent of correlation, it says nothing about causation.

This video from RodCastMath explains more about negative and positive correlation on a scatter plot.

See also: graph theory, pictograph, bar graph, point-to-point graph, sparkline, time series chart

This was last updated in December 2012

Continue Reading About scatter plot

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • brute force attack

    Brute force (also known as brute force cracking) is a trial and error method used by application programs to decode encrypted ...

  • spyware

    Spyware is software that is installed on a computing device without the user's knowledge. Spyware can be difficult to detect; ...

  • ATM black box attack

    An ATM black box attack, also referred to as jackpotting, is a type of banking-system crime in which the perpetrators bore holes ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • warm site

    A warm site is a type of facility an organization uses to recover its technology infrastructure when its primary data center goes...

  • disaster recovery (DR) test

    A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's ...

SearchStorage

  • disk array

    A disk array, also called a storage array, is a data storage system used for block-based storage, file-based storage or object ...

  • enterprise storage

    Enterprise storage is a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management, protection and data...

  • optical storage

    Optical storage is any storage type in which data is written and read with a laser. Typically, data is written to optical media, ...

Close